West Papua must be given full membership at the Melanesian Spearhead Group, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
“The people of West Papua have long been denied basic human rights by their own government,” says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.
“They are therefore justified in seeking support and assistance for those rights from outside their own borders.”
The Melanesian Spearhead Group will decide on an application for full membership from West Papua groups in June.
PFF is calling on the Melanesian Spearhead Group to support internationally recognised West Papua organisations, rather than a recent initiative from Indonesia.
“Indonesia already has observer status at the Melanesian Spearhead Group,” says Gabi.
“They need to step back and allow West Papua to establish full and proper relations with their Melanesian brothers and sisters.”
A recently established coalition of freedom groups called the United Liberation Movement for West Papua is now competing with an initiative from the Indonesian government to gain recognition for its own grouping.
PFF has previously joined international concerns about human rights abuses by Indonesian security forces in West Papua, including against freedoms of speech, along with assault, arbitrary arrest, torture, rape and murder.
PFF co-Chair Monica Miller says there is growing recognition for West Papua to have a voice at the regional level.
However she says there are mixed signals from within the Melanesian Spearhead Group, about which group to support.
“It makes absolutely no sense for MSG to give priority to Indonesian voices when Indonesia denies those same rights to its own citizens.”
Indonesia was given observer status at the MSG in 2011, after support from Fiji.
Miller notes that support for West Papua has grown significantly since then, especially in Fiji.
A Facebook group called Fiji West Papua Friends has more than 10,000 members.
This compares with some 4,000 members in an Australian group, and 2,000 in New Zealand.
Support groups for West Papua have appeared in multiple locations across the region, including Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands.